Veteran Sparks math teacher called a hero
The Nevada National Guard called Master Sgt. Michael Landsberry a hero on Tuesday for giving up his life while trying to persuade a student to surrender a handgun.
The Sparks Middle School teacher was shot and killed early Monday morning when a male student at the school revealed a semi-automatic handgun. The student shot Landsberry, 45, and two 12-year-old students, according to Tom Miller, acting chief of the Sparks Police Department. Reno Police Department Deputy Chief Tom Robinson said Landsberry was “trying to intervene” when he saw the student with the gun and called him a “hero” in the situation.
Col. Jeffrey Burkett, the Nevada Air Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing Commander, spoke at a press conference conducted at the Reno air base and echoed those sentiments.
“Mike is a hero because he chose to serve his country as a Marine and as a Nevada Guardsman, but he was also a hero because he chose to serve his community in the most commendable way imaginable — as a teacher committed to the education of our youth,” Burkett said “Our understanding is that Mike, true to hero’s form, made an attempt to talk the shooter out of using his weapon before becoming a victim of this senseless tragedy.”
Landsberry taught math at Sparks Middle School and was a graduate of McQueen High School and the University of Nevada, Reno. He was also an assistant girls soccer coach at Sparks High School. According to the Nevada Military Department, Landsberry entered the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from McQueen High School in 1986.
Upon return to Reno, Landsberry completed an associate’s degree from Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno and earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2000. He received a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2005.
Two milestones occurred in 2001. Landsberry was hired by the Washoe County School District, and he enlisted in the Nevada Air Guard as an air transportation craftsman. Since 9/11, Landsberry deployed twice, once in 2006 to Kuwait and then five years later to Bagram Air Field Afghanistan, where he performed air transportation functions for the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron.
Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of the Churchill County School District said teachers are very caring, and their students are very imporant to them.
“Mr. Landsberry paid the ultimate price,” Sheldon said. “He was a hero. Our condoclences go to this his family and to the students’ families.”
Garrett Valenzuela of the Sparks Tribune, Erick Studenicka of the Nevada National Guard and Steve Ranson of the Lahontan Valley News contributed to the story.